Grounds for Separation
Dear American Airlines.
We’ve been together a long time. We’ve had our share of ups and downs. In the early days, I might have dabbled a little with ‘others’, but in the end we settled in to a long and loving win-win relationship.
Yes, I used the word ‘airline’ and ‘loving’ in the same sentence. I love that you whisk me off on adventures around the globe and help us realize its a small world after all. I love that you deliver me to my loved ones safe and sound (and majority of the time, on time) and, in 20 years of travel with you, only twice have you have misplaced some of my belongings for 24 hours. But even the best of relationships comes with its share of baggage issues, so I'll take it. And I love that the reward my loyalty with perks.
And you? Well, you love that I pay you money. That seems fair. Win-win.
But I fear that we have hit a bumpy patch in our relationship, and trouble is brewing.
I wasn’t looking for another relationship, It just kind of ‘happened’. I looked at them across a crowded web-booking page, they were available and willing, (for a last minute, same day journey and quite frankly at a very attractive price, with no connecting flight) and before I knew it I was enveloped in their wings and floating away en route with ‘someone else’. Yes, I felt a little guilty. I even missed you at first - the familiar chimes of your announcements, your attractive award winning American Way magazine that helps pass time in flight, the endearing way you always reward my loyalty... and since I had recently reached 'status' with you (bring on the Facebook update), I couldn’t help but feel a little like I was cheating with a friend with no benefits. But, with one small gesture, my guilt evaporated in to thin air faster than a cabin crews' patience with a passenger trying to use the bathroom during the in-flight beverage service. Yes, one seemingly insignificant event percolated through my very being and changed the way I see you forever.
They brought me a delicious cup of coffee.
And, pardon my low flying expectations, they brought it to me in a real-sized paper cup and a lid! A lid!!!! Stop the presses! Please, whatever genius decided to serve coffee on an airplane with a lid, deserves to promoted. To President. Of everything.
And it was hot!! Like, really properly hot coffee should be! And then, I took a sip…
...It tasted like coffee.
In short, they had me at “Here's a delicious cup of real, hot coffee. With a lid.”
I’d like to say I didn’t know what I'd been missing, but in reality, I did. With each sip of caffeinated beverage served under the misused-moniker of ‘coffee’ throughout our high flying relationship over the years, I knew that somewhere down there on the ground, someone had to responsible for this travesty in catering provisions. “Sodas - check. Juices - check. Coloured brown water formulated with equal parts bitter, insipid and just overall weirdly flavored - check. Hey boss, what do we label this anyway? Coffee? Got it!"
Now I know what you’re going to say, AA, that I’m losing sight of the big picture, focusing on the little things, whipping up a storm in a coffee cup. That you can’t believe I would consider this grounds for separation.
And you’re not wrong. But lets face it - traveling can be a grind. When you find yourself 35,000 feet up in the air, perhaps have just said a sad goodbye from someone, are exhausted from a sleepless night, or excited for an adventure that lay ahead, a good cup of coffee can be a game changer.
I’m not being unreasonable. You’ve changed over the years and I've been willing to overlook the fact that you no longer offer me a meal, or even a snack. (Yes, the ‘other guy’ fed me cookies and chips too, but I can let that one slide). You used to give me things - blankets, pillows, headphones - but I understand relationships change and I’m willing to stick with you through the turbulent economic times. I’m good like that.
But this one request I have, American Airlines. Spill the beans on what it takes to get a decent cup of coffee.
I’m not asking for fancy grinds, flavors, or decaf, skinny Macchiatos (unless you're offering. In which case is Pumpkin Spice on the menu?). Just bring me a normal sized, hot cup of coffee, that tastes like java is supposed to taste. And I'm happy to sit back (with seat back in the upright position and tray table stowed for take off, of course), and when we’ve reached a comfortable cruising altitude we can rekindle our relationship over a delicious, hot cup of coffee. With a lid.
A loyal, but caffeine craving, customer.
Authors note: This was originally written in 2015. It appears since this time that on some flights previously operated as US AIRWAYS flights, REAL coffee is being served! Lids, however, remain MIA.